CINCINNATI -- The hardest-hit baseball by a Reds player over at least the past four seasons was scorched by … a pitcher?Yes, indeed. In the fifth inning, as Cincinnati trailed the Rockies by a 3-1 score on Thursday afternoon, reliever Michael Lorenzen was used as a pinch-hitter for starter Tyler
CINCINNATI -- The hardest-hit baseball by a Reds player over at least the past four seasons was scorched by … a pitcher?
Yes, indeed. In the fifth inning, as Cincinnati trailed the Rockies by a 3-1 score on Thursday afternoon, reliever Michael Lorenzen was used as a pinch-hitter for starter Tyler Mahle to lead off. Given a 2-0 fastball by Rockies starter Tyler Anderson, Lorenzen connected and sharply lined a single to left field.
"I was like, 'Man, I think that's pretty hard off the bat,'" Lorenzen said after the Reds 7-5 walk-off win at Great American Ball Park.
According to Statcast™, the ball's exit velocity off Lorenzen's bat was 116.5 mph. It was the highest exit velocity a Reds hitter has recorded since Statcast™ began tracking in 2015. No other Cincinnati player had previously hit a ball that had more than a 115-mph exit velocity.
Lorenzen's feat also happens to mark the hardest hit by a pitcher in the Majors since Statcast™ began tracking.
"That's great," Lorenzen said. "Yeah, 2-0 count so I was sitting dead-red fastball for the 1-0 count, 2-0 count. Just swung hard and was able to barrel it up."
Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman noticed the ball was hit hard, but he was surprised when told about the exit velocity.
"Generally, when balls are hit real good, they're airborne when that happens," Riggleman said. "He's a strong kid. He can do that. We try to get him to focus on using the middle of the field, because you don't want him to air one out and get the injury that's so prominent in that rib cage area. He's aggressive. He's getting after it."
Lorenzen, who played center field at Cal State Fullerton, is 2-for-9 as a pinch-hitter in his big league career. The last time a Reds pitcher connected for a hit as a pinch-hitter was when Lorenzen slugged a home run against Pirates pitcher Adam Morgan on April 6, 2017, also at Great American Ball Park.
On Aug. 19, 2016, Lorenzen hit a home run off Dodgers right-hander Pedro Baez after entering the game as a pitcher.
"I work with Tony Jaramillo, our assistant hitting coach, daily in the cage and stuff," Lorenzen said. "All the stuff that I'm doing now is really what I'm learning from him, and he's helped me out tremendously. I take it extremely seriously. I take it as serious as I do pitching. If they rely on me to have pinch-hit at-bats, I want to be reliable."
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.